Margaret Atwood’s ‘Alias Grace’ coming to small screen, thanks to Sarah Polley

Two of Margaret Atwood's stories are being turned into TV shows.
(Bernard Weil . Getty Images)

Margaret Atwood is ready for her adaptation.

Netflix and the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation are bringing Atwood’s historical novel “Alias Grace” to the small screen, Deadline reports. The book will be adapted as a six-hour miniseries being written and produced by Sarah Polley and directed by Mary Harron.

The news comes less than two months after Hulu announced it ordered an adaptation of Atwood’s dystopian novel “The Handmaid’s Tale,” starring Elisabeth Moss in the lead role. The 1985 book, now considered a feminist classic, was made into a 1990 film starring Natasha Richardson with a screenplay by Harold Pinter. The Hulu series is scheduled to air next year.

“Alias Grace,” published in 1996, is based on the true story of Grace Marks, a maid in Canada who was convicted of murdering her boss, Thomas Kinnear, and his housekeeper in 1843.


Marks’ co-defendant, James McDermott, was hanged for the crime; Marks served three decades in jail before being pardoned. After being released from prison, she moved to the United States.


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Polley said she’s been a fan of Atwood’s novel for years and has read it repeatedly. “ ‘Grace Marks,’ as captured by Margaret Atwood, is the most complex, riveting character I have ever read,” she said.

This won’t be the first time Polley has adapted the work of a Canadian literary legend. She wrote and directed the 2006 film “Away from Her,” based on Alice Munro’s short story “The Bear Came Over the Mountain.” Polley earned an Academy Award nomination for her screenplay.


Director Harron also is no stranger to literary film adaptations. She co-wrote and directed the 2000 movie “American Psycho,” based on Bret Easton Ellis’ novel, and adapted Rachel Klein’s horror novel “The Moth Diaries” for the big screen in 2011.

Production on “Alias Grace” is scheduled to begin in August. There’s no word yet on when it will be hitting screens.


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